Cell Phone Accessories
Dots911 amplifies cell signals, points you toward coverage

editors-choiceThe Premise: There have been too many cases where people have been lost or stranded without cellphone reception to make a call for help. People often have to wander off blindly in search of a stronger signal in hopes of getting out of their sticky situation. Not being able to find a cell signal — a nuisance in daily life — can turn into a life-threatening scenario, particularly in extreme temperatures.

The Product. Dots911 is a combination of hardware that boosts signal strength and software that directs you to the nearest signal if you don’t have any. It’s an insurance product to make sure that you never end up stranded without signal, and it can sometimes be the difference between life and death. The app, which is available for Android and iOS users, doesn’t directly control the product. However, it is a good complement, providing a quick access map of cellphone coverage in the area, while the amplifier — which resembles a small, clear satellite dish — boosts whatever signal there is to make a stronger connection.

The Pitch. In their video, the creators provide examples of people who have been stranded and unable to call for help because they didn’t have cell-phone coverage. They show how their app uses color-coded dots to direct the user to the closest signal, and how the signal booster can fit within the trunk of a car for convenient signal access.

The Perks: The app for Dots911 is available only to those who make a $35 pledge or more. That pledge is also enough for a compact 8-inch signal enhancer that requires no power and works with any mobile phone in the world. You can pitch in more money to receive larger signal enhancers for increased signal power.

The Potential: While the potential value of the Dots911 system is compelling, there are other cellular amplifiers on the market, many of which are more compact. Their signal enhancer looks like the product of a garage, some extra plastic, and an old camera tripod. It’s not portable enough to be a product that campers or hikers would consider bringing, and for the average cellphone user, a laptop sized satellite isn’t exactly the number one solution for a text message that won’t go through. However, throwing one in the trunk of your car might not be a good idea if your travels will take you to remote and potentially dangerous places.